Teen starlet Joe Wildsmith has been told to stay grounded as the Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper continues to work his way up the football ladder.
The talented shot-stopper, who is still waiting to make his senior Owls debut after coming through the Championship club’s youth system, is currently away on international duty.
Wildsmith was included in the England Under-20 squad last week ahead of the prestigious International Four Team tournament, which began in the Netherlands yesterday. The Three Lions face Germany, Holland and Turkey in the space of five days.
It promises to be a big learning curve for Wildsmith and Owls academy manager Dean Ramsdale is urging the 19-year-old to make the most of the experience.
“It’s exciting news for Joe and the whole academy,” he told The Star. “It’s great for us when you see youngsters getting international recognition.
“Joe was outstanding last season and has played well this year so that has quite rightly caused some interest from England. We are delighted he has got an opportunity to show what he can do.”
Wildsmith said it is a “huge honour” to have been called-up, saying: “It makes me very proud. I just want to continue on the right career path and go from strength to strength.”
It was last November that the youngster earned his maiden Owls pro contract. Now Wildsmith regularly travels with the first-team squad to away matches.
Ramsdale said: “It is good for Joe’s development working with the first team. The staff are seeing what he is like in that environment and it will only aid his education.
“Joe is a smashing lad and has got a great work ethic. He always want to learn and play in games.
“You actually feel assured as a coach when you see Joe is in goal. You know he will come for crosses and organise his defence. He has got a great voice and a real presence about him.
“He stands big when he needs to be and he hardly makes any bad decisions.”
However, Ramsdale has called on Wildsmith to keep progressing if he wants to make the grade at Hillsborough.
“Joe has got two senior keepers who will take some shoving out of the way,” he said. “Keiren Westwood and Chris Kirkland are not going to step aside and let Joe have an opportunity.
“It will be down to Joe to continue to work hard and show a willingess to learn. I have no doubt Joe will do that.
“He has got all the tools. Goalkeeping coach Andy Rhodes will say he has got bits and bobs to learn but he will get opportunities at some point as long as he keeps the desire and hunger to improve.”
Dawson, Wildsmith’s teammate, is on loan at Alfreton Town learning his trade. He has started 12 times for the Reds, who are second from bottom in the Vanarama Conference.
“We are very lucky to have two fantastic young goalkeepers,” said Ramsdale. “They are two young exciting prospects.
“Cameron and Joe know where they are in the pecking order and are under no illusions what they’ve got to do to make the step up.
“They work closely together. That competition is extremely healthy to have in every department. It has made them both kick on.”
Ramsdale has praised the work ethic of Wednesday’s goalkeepers.
He said: “You can’t speak highly enough of the keepers we have at the club. They are the first ones out for training every day.
“We have Keiren, Chris, Joe and Cameron and they enjoy working with Andy and academy coach Nicky Weaver. It’s a really tight group and they all push each other on.
“Andy and Nicky are great people to have around the place. They have a good sense of humour and keep the keepers feet on the ground. The environment is good for them to learn under their guidance.
“It can only be a good thing when you have got that sort of quality. It is a nice problem to have and I imagine the manager wants quality in every position.”